Overhaul recommended


Location, ownership rules and Guild-government agreements all in the firing line for CHF

A major shake-up to pharmacy regulations are needed to move the profession into a more central role in Australian healthcare, the Consumers Health Forum of Australia says.

In its submission to the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation, CHF recommends alternative arrangements to current bi-lateral pharmacy agreement process between the Government and the Pharmacy Guild representing owners, and for the de-regulation of location and ownership rules governing the whereabouts of pharmacies and who can own them.

“The rules governing pharmacies, which will receive $18.9 billion over five years under the current pharmacy agreement, need to change to reflect changes in community expectations and potential health reforms which will change pharmacists’ working relationships with other health professionals,” said Leanne Wells, CEO of the consumer organisation.

The group says funding needs to be spread outside the purely retail setting and needs to move away from a bilateral negotiation between the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the government.

“Several reports to Government have found that there is a serious case for government support of community pharmacies to be more transparent and contestable and for the location rules to be removed to allow for competition, innovation and new pharmacies”.

“Instead of the current Community Pharmacy Agreement which is negotiated bilaterally, CHF recommends that the agreement be abolished and replaced by separate negotiations and agreements on areas such as the dispensing fee, and the funding and performance of professional services by pharmacists,” she said.

In addition, CHF says the requirement for a pharmacy to be owned by a pharmacist is “an anachronism”.

“Consumers have identified convenience and out-of-hours access as reasons for allowing pharmacies to operate in different settings, provided there is a qualified pharmacist on duty to provide essential professional advice”.

The CHFs deputy chair Jo Watson is one of the three members of the review panel.

Other changes recommended by the CHF were:

  • Extending hospital pharmacy services to ensure dispensing after hours to all community members where appropriate
  • That pharmacies display a list of services they provide and fees charged
  • Continuing the $1 discount on co-payments
  • That the PBS safety net should be monitored and administered centrally through Medicare
  • The adoption of a protocol on advising customers of interactions between complementary and prescription medicines.

“All of our recommendations take into account other health reforms that are underway, including the introduction of Health Care Homes, the role of Primary Health Networks and the move to more integrated care across primary and hospital settings. Community pharmacy needs to be included in all these reforms and we believe our recommendations position it to do so,” the submissions says.

Click here to see the full CHF submission 

Click here for submissions by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Chemist Warehouse 

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